“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” — Proverbs 16:32 ESV
In my last post, Do You Play Defense, Dennis was very easily offended, but wouldn’t talk to Gracie about why. They found an article about how to resolve conflict according to God’s Word.
At first, they were successful in resolving some minor issues. Gracie thought they were doing well until one day while driving to dinner, a car cut Dennis off. He flew into a rage, swinging his car in very close behind the other car, laying on the horn, his arm out the window with his middle finger up, while screaming obscenities at the driver.
Gracie was terrified. When they finally came to a stop, she sat trying to catch her breath, then slowly unpeeled her hand from the armrest, and turned to Dennis.
“That was awesome,” he yelled pounding on the steering wheel. “That’ll teach him.”
“What is wrong with you?” Gracie yelled back.
“Nothing. This is my normal self,” he said with a big grin on his face pounding the steering wheel again. “I’m back.”
“What do you mean, you’re back?”
“Well, this is the way I am naturally. I’ve tried so hard not to let my anger, impulsivity, and right-fighting show, but I can’t hold it in any longer.”
“What do you mean?”
What is ADHD
“It’s my ADHD. I just can’t do it anymore.”
Gracie sat stunned.
“I don’t understand. I’ve never seen this side of you, even as kids.”
Dennis sat quietly for several moments. Finally, he spoke.
“I have kept this quiet my whole life. Every time I was emotional in one way or another my dad would call me a sissy and make fun of me. Often, I would get beaten for showing emotion. I guess he was trying to beat the ‘sissy’ out of me. When I turned 18 I went to the doctor for depression. He diagnosed me with ADHD.”
“When the doctor told my mom and I, I was sure that would change how my dad looked at me. It changed all right. He got worse. I still tried very hard not to let any emotions show when I was around others, especially you. But, I can’t do it anymore. I need to let you see the real me. If you want out of this marriage, so be it.”
ADHD in adults
According to the dictionary, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a condition, found mainly in children, characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. But, according to Additudemag.com, an online magazine about ADHD, it is much more complex than the dictionary alludes to.
The dictionary definition implies that children outgrow the condition or it magically disappears when the child reaches adulthood. But, that isn’t the case at all.
In more recent years they have discovered that ADD, now known as ADHD, does not go away, but by adulthood most people have learned to compensate for at least some of the characteristics, just to survive.
Many people in their senior years have ADHD that was never diagnosed. As children, their families and teachers often assumed they were just troublemakers and needed severe discipline.
ADHD and anger
In more recent years, researchers have discovered that ADHD is also in adults. Early ADHD research identified “emotional dysregulation” which described the difficulty that subjects had in regulating their emotions. They failed to assess the drastic effect of uncontrolled anger on the other emotions.
Significant numbers of children and adults with ADHD experience disproportionate problems with self-regulation of anger, irritability, frustration, other negative emotions, and emotions in general.
It has been documented that men with ADHD seem to be more prone to anger than women. Possibly because as children girls were easier to discipline and control than boys.
For example, one woman stated that her dad was a very strict disciplinarian. She didn’t get away with any angry outbursts or any behavior that he did not feel was appropriate. Consequently, she learned to develop “workarounds” that helped with emotional self-regulation.
Is ADHD genetic?
Some question if ADHD is genetic. The National Health Services of England state that “ADHD tends to run in families and, in most cases, it’s thought the genes you inherit from your parents are a significant factor in developing the condition. Research shows that parents and siblings of someone with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves.”
When Dennis read the statement about ADHD being genetic, he wondered about his dad, “Could he be ADHD also?” he asked Gracie.
His dad displayed many of the symptoms referenced in the material they were researching, especially what Newton Hightower stated in his book Anger Busting 101. Working with rage addicts as a counselor, he observed that the effects of anger were similar to the effects of drugs on the body.
Hightower’s research showed that “biochemical changes take place in the body when one goes into a rage, uses profanity, or pounds things.”
Dennis began remembering times when his dad beat him in a rage. He said it was like his dad couldn’t stop. His face would become red with intense anger. A couple of times his mother had to intervene to stop the beatings.
After several conversations with his mom and the newly acquired information, he came to the conclusion that his dad was also ADHD, which made his anger more intense.
Early psychological information stated that the individual needed to “release the anger” verbally or physically. Angry men were instructed to pound pillows, scream, and yell to “let off steam.”
Raging anger was compared to a pressure cooker when the steam builds up inside. They used to recommend that the stored-up anger be released slowly so the person wouldn’t explode causing damage to themselves or others.
More recent scientific research shows that acting on anger causes it to increase instead of decrease. Individuals habitually expressing anger are also prone to health problems and heart attacks.
“Despise God’s Word and find yourself in trouble. Obey it and succeed.” — (Proverbs 13:13, TLB)
Allow your pressure cooker to cool down before speaking or interacting with someone else.
Hightower and many others are now recommending that you stop talking. Take a walk.
Stop repeatedly going over the issues in your mind.
After Dennis and Gracie went over some of the ADHD and anger information, Dennis said, “Maybe I acted correctly, after all. I have tried very hard to not be like my dad, to not allow my anger to rule. I’ve done pretty good until today. Please forgive me for my behavior in the car.”
Gracie gave Dennis, a big hug.
“Now, we’re getting someplace. This has been a real conversation.”